VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Christine Sinclair may be the greatest soccer player Canada has ever had, and a star in Portland where she plays for the Thorns, but the fanfare around her new record has been unlike anything she’s experienced before.
She was honored Tuesday at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame for becoming the all-time leading goal-scorer in international soccer, breaking Abby Wambach’s record with her 185th goal two weeks ago, and she told Pro Soccer USA the response has been more than she could’ve expected.
“To be honest it was just so overwhelming,” Sinclair said. “To hear from Billy Jean King, that was pretty special, I’m not going to lie. The Prime Minister, past teammates, and people that I’ve played against. The video that Abby (Wambach) made, it was pretty special.”
The record was a long time coming, but finally broken on Jan. 29 against St. Kitts and Nevis, when Sinclair scored goal number 184 and 185, moving her ahead of U.S. Hall of Fame striker Abby Wambach. Canada would go on to win their opening match at the 2020 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship with a resounding 11-0 victory, and the team later qualified for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
Sinclair was greeted with a post-match champagne shower from her teammates and the Burnaby, B.C. native was inundated with congratulations, and well wishes from all over the world.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 30, 2020
The always-humble Sinclair has always said she played soccer with the focus solely on doing what she can to help her team win. All the goals, assists, and accolades are all secondary — Sinclair has always been a team-first athlete, that would prefer the attention go to her teammates.
As the countdown to 185 slowly ramped up heading into Olympic qualifiers, Sinclair admitted it was a relief to tie and then break Wambach’s record. After all, the task at hand was earning a spot at Tokyo 2020, and Sinclair wanted that to be the prime focus.
“It’s a pretty amazing story,” Canada Soccer president Steven Reed told Pro Soccer USA. “We’ve had someone who’s been with our program for 21 years. It’s not just most international goals by a women, but it crosses gender. She’s got more than any male. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, nobody can touch her for that. It’s pretty amazing for somebody from our backyard who is a great inspiration for all of our young players.
“Boys, girls, men, and women, it doesn’t matter — everyone looks at Christine for that inspiration.”
Congratulations to Christine Sinclair @sincy12, who now holds the World Record for International Goals, Man or Woman.
What a legacy of commitment, strength, athleticism, and perseverance. https://t.co/KQkI4Pu4QY
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 30, 2020
In a sport where Europe’s top male footballers generate most of the headlines on and off the pitch, a quiet, polite, and well-spoke Canadian is ahead of anyone who has ever played the beautiful game. That’s why the 36-year-old is idolized as a hero and someone who young girls and boys aspire to be.
Being an inspiration is a role Sinclair has grown into as the game continues to develop.
“I think it’s happening,” Sinclair acknowledged. “I think anyone that watched the World Cup last summer, can see that the game is changing, the game is evolving, the world is changing. Now it’s just a matter of other countries catching up.”
As Sinclair looks to lead Canada into the Olympics, her latest run through Concacaf qualifiers proved that she is still at the top of her game.
Sitting on 186 goals, there is no reason not to think that Sinclair could reach 200 goals before she retires.
“Christine can score them in bunches,” Reed said. “I’m looking forward to it. She’s at 186. We’re looking at playing Australia and through the Olympic games, they all count. It’ll be interesting to see. Christine is such a great athlete and so fit. She can play long enough to hit that.”